Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Absolutist by John Boyne

“In that direction only pain lies.” 

I think this quote pretty much sums up the book. I can't actually remember in which part of the book this quote is from, but it can be interpreted as the physical pain that war brings, the emotional pain because of the many losses it causes, or pain because of a heartbreak.

Just in case you are unaware, an absolutist is someone that completely opposes the war- they refuse to fight in it, or help out in any other way. Nowadays, I think the majority of people are against war, but during WWI, they were considered cowards or 'feather men'. There were also conscientious objectors, who were those who refused to fight in the War, but helped out in other ways, e.g. by being a stretcher bearer. I actually learnt many things by reading this book. It's not very educational, but I was just ignorant about WWI before.

Although The Absolutist is based around WWI, it isn't very violent or gruesome. If it was a movie, I probably wouldn't watch it because of all the blood, shooting, violence, etc. but since we barely know the soldiers who were killed and their death is not explained in detail, it doesn't seem that sad or terrifying. Of course, the real WWI was horrific, but the story doesn't explore those aspects of war very much. Instead, it focuses mostly on the romance that blossoms between Tristan, the main character, and Will, the soldier who declares himself an absolutist. <3 Unfortunately, homosexuality was illegal  at that time, so their love was doomed right from the beginning.

I liked the way the book was structured. It moves back and forth from 1916, during the war, to 1919, after it. There are also some flashbacks to when Tristan was younger. We learn more and more about him and his history throughout the book. This kept me interested all the way to the end.

I found the story mostly predictable, except for the ending- which I won't say :) It sounds like I am contradicting myself since the ending came as a surprise to me, but I just mean that at the start and middle there aren't any major twists. But the ending!!!! I can't say anything, but it still tears a bit of my heart just by thinking about it. I think it is a book worth reading!

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